Some 800 people blocked the road outside Downing Street today, Wednesday, as Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited London.
Police were unable to contain the protest, as it swelled beyond the cordon opposite Downing Street and into the middle of Whitehall.
Several hundred protesters chanted “refugees in – Netanyahu out” and other pro-Palestinian slogans as they marched across the road to stand at Downing Street’s gates.
Protester Arij told Socialist Worker, “Netanyahu is a war criminal. It’s disgraceful that David Cameron is meeting him.”
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) called the protest at short notice on Wednesday of last week, when Netanyahu’s visit was announced.
Netanyahu was expected to meet with David Cameron to discuss “regional security cooperation” in the Middle East.
A government statement released yesterday made clear Britain’s support for Israel’s assault on Gaza last year. Israeli forces killed more than 2,000 Palestinians during the six week attack.
The statement said that Britain is “a close friend of Israel and we enjoy an excellent bilateral relationship, built on decades of cooperation.”
“The prime minister was clear on Britain’s recognition of Israel’s right to take proportionate action to defend itself”.
The statement also attempted to excuse Israel for the slaughter, blaming Palestinian resistance group Hamas, which governs in the Gaza Strip.
But opposition to Israel has been growing inside Britain. More than 100,000 people signed a petition calling for Netanyahu to be arrested as a war criminal when he arrived in Britain.
And just last Saturday As many as 1,000 people marched through Cardiff as the Israeli football team played Wales in the Euro 2016 qualifiers.
Israel is also under pressure from a burgeoning Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
BDS targets companies which invest in Israel or profit from its occupation of Palestinian territories.
In the past few weeks BDS campaigns have forced global outsourcing giant Veolia to withdraw from Israel and the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
And last week fizzy drinks machine manufacturer Soda Stream announced it was closing its factory inside an Israeli West Bank settlement.
Netanyahu is clearly feeling the pressure. Just before his visit Netanyahu said, “Europe should support Israel – not pressure Israel, not attack Israel, but support Israel”.
The Tories and the British state will continue to support Israel. But protests like today’s show they are at odds with huge numbers of people who support the Palestinians and hate British imperialism.
Mohammed was one of the protesters outside Downing Street. He told Socialist Worker, “People protested against bombing Syria in 2013 – and the government didn’t bomb Syria then.
“People started protesting about the refugee crisis – now the government has increased the refugee intake.
“All we can do is keep protesting. I think blocking the road here is the only way to get heard”.
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